Theatre review: Rent

York Theatre Royal

Twenty years later Rent, laden with theatrical awards and the Pulitzer Prize, remains as powerful as ever with its story of impoverished young artists struggling to survive in mid-1990s New York City’s East Village with the threat of HIV/AIDS ever present. The story of doomed lovers is loosely based on the opera La Boheme, but don’t let that put you off visiting what’s a loud and proud rock opera blessed in this first rate production by a superb cast who really can sing.

One of the leading cast members Lucie Jones – the X Factor finalist who’ll represent the UK in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest – was absent through illness for Tuesday’s opening night in York but more than ably replaced by understudy Christina Modestou in what’s essentially an ensemble piece. There’s not a weak link among them although it would be wrong not to make special mention of Layton Williams, a former stage Billy Elliot, who proves a standout scene-stealer as drag artist Angel in Lee Proud’s dynamic choreography.

To April 22.

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